Intended for healthcare professionals


The medical management of problem gamblers

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 09 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1559
  1. Henrietta Bowden-Jones, director and lead clinician1,
  2. Neil Smith, principal psychologist1
  1. 1National Problem Gambling Clinic, Soho Centre for Health, London W1D 3HZ, UK
  1. h.bowdenjones02{at}

Welcome new guidance highlights scanty evidence base to guide screening and treatment

Pathological gambling is an addiction that afflicts 0.9% of the population of the United Kingdom according to the findings of the 2010 British gambling prevalence survey.1 This means that there are about 450 000 problem gamblers in the UK. In these people, gambling has a profound negative impact on mental health and quality of life, which leads to disrupted family and professional relationships, as well as to debt and possibly crime to fund further gambling activities.2 The recent publication of the Australian Monash University guidelines is a welcome first step in trying to pull together the scant evidence on screening and treatment for those with gambling addiction.3

The 2007 British gambling prevalence survey estimated that the prevalence of gambling addiction in the UK was 0.6%, a figure that had remained stable since the previous 2000 survey.4 The reasons for the more recent increase in problem gambling in the UK have been debated by academics and policy makers. Some experts have urged caution in interpreting the survey results, particularly in view of the small sample of people interviewed (just over 7500). Others suggest that the overall increase in gambling among people …

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